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The Plot

Travis Wren has the ability to find people – by touching items or walking through an environment. He is regularly hired by those who need a last resort – families of missing people. When the police cannot find them, Travis can. Maggie St. James, a popular children’s book author, has been missing for years when her parents hire Travis to find her. Soon after, Travis disappears as well after finding a strange community called Pastoral.

After a few years, Theo – a lifelong member of Pastoral – braves the outside and finds Travis’ abandoned truck down the road from Pastoral’s entrance. Everyone in Pastoral believes that outside the boundary of their community, the trees are releasing “the rot.” Those who leave Pastoral become infected with rot, making their blood run black and killing them.

Levi, the leader of Pastoral, makes sure that everyone inside Pastoral is protected by saging the borders and having Theo guard the gated entrance. Theo has disobeyed by leaving the border and finding Travis’ truck, but he does not get sick. How is Theo immune? Will he and his wife Calla find the missing Theo and Maggie?

Praise for A History of Wild Places

The Verdict

This novel reads like a fairy tale, connecting closely to the disappearance of Maggie St. James, a dark fairy tale children’s book writer. A History of Wild Places hits every feature of horror literature that I love: cults, disappearances, the supernatural. Yet somehow, it doesn’t work at all. Everything falls flat in this novel. The two twists are predictable and lackluster. I was not surprised by either, and I finished this novel feeling very let down, as there has been so much hype around this novel and its release.

The author holding her novel

After finishing, I researched Shea Ernshaw and was not surprised to find that she is a young adult author and that this novel is her first adult text. This made it all come together. The writing does not transcend the level of young adult, even when you make it a horror novel. It was all just so predictable and I left the text feeling very disappointed. Perhaps this was because of the way that everyone is reading this and loving it, but I expected more.

I hate to disagree with everyone, but this novel was just okay. Not terrible, but not riveting, and certainly not anything new. This novel had the potential to blow my socks off, but the technique and craft just did not make it to where it needed to be for this book to stun.

If you don’t have FOMO (fear of missing out), I’d skip this one. Fans of the thriller and horror genre will be let down if they take this one on.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Sarah Moon is a stone-cold sorceress from Tennessee whose interests include serial killers, horror fiction, and the newest dystopian blockbuster. Sarah holds an M.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing. She works as an English professor as well as a cemeterian. Sarah is most likely to cover horror in print including prose, poetry, and graphic forms.

Book Reviews

A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”

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The Plot

“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?”  — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.

The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.

Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.

The Verdict

This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.

It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel

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“That doesn’t invalidate it,” Angel said. “There’s no statute of limitations on pain.”

The Plot

Angel is a man who knows pain: physical, mental, sexual. The story begins with Angel visiting Room 6 at the Lonely Motel and ordering a plus-size sex worker to his room. What comes next is Angel’s retellings of painful stories while performing sexual acts on the sex worker, Shyla.

The novel reads as a book of short stories, as Angel relays stories to Shyla and she tells him stories back. This is a novel of pain and disgust. Angel’s stories are so dark and traumatic that Shyla can’t believe they are true. As Angel bares his soul, we see a side of him that is melancholy and unable to process hurt in a natural way.

The Verdict

This novel is full of disgusting visuals and isn’t afraid to get dirty. This truly is an extreme horror novel. As a warning, there is discussion of feces, blood, rape, sex, and body horror. This novel is not for the faint of heart. You’ll close this short novel feeling dirty. Angel is a character that begs for sympathy while his stories narrate that he may not be as innocent as he perceives.

When the subtitle says this novel is extreme horror, believe it. Only the strong will survive Duncan Ralston’s Woom. It is more splatterpunk than anything, but true literary quality lies beneath the filth.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Read it yourself by clicking below!

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Book Reviews

Did She Do It? Stacy Willingham’s “All the Dangerous Things” Asks Us Just This

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One year ago, Isabelle’s life crumbled when her baby was abducted from her home. Her marriage to her husband, Ben, is destroyed as they try to navigate the fallout.

The Plot

Even one year after the abduction, Isabelle seeks answers. She is still doing appearances at true crime expos to get information on the attendees, thinking the abductor will be there one day. Abductors usually revisit their crime and Isabelle swaps her appearances for the event guest list, never taking any money for her talks.

Some think that Isabelle killed her own baby as evidence from the case says the perpetrator came from inside the house. Isabelle hasn’t slept – not fully – since Mason was abducted. Her therapist is worried that she may be having hallucinations. Is Isabelle the killer or is she on a quest for true justice?

The Verdict

I absolutely loved the complication of not knowing whether Isabelle was a reliable or unreliable narrator. This was my favorite aspect of the novel. It made me question everything that Isabelle had to say and the actions she executed.

Isabelle is a character that, as a mother, I really felt for. I wanted to believe that Isabelle was innocent, but I was hanging on the edge of my seat waiting to find out. Stacy Willingham is the master of a story that winds all around, waiting for you to find the truth.

If you are interested in reading Willingham’s first novel, A Flicker in the Dark, check out my review here.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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